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Executors of Estates

Traps and liability issues for Executors of Estates

You are appointed as Executor of an Estate. You appreciate the confidence expressed in you, and you are more than happy to help your relative or friend.

It can’t be that hard, can it?

What is often not appreciated is the responsibility that comes with being the Executor of an estate and that an Executor can be personally liable if the legal requirements are not performed properly.

The basic requirements are:

Executor’s role. An Executor is required to uphold the deceased’s Will and put into effect the deceased’s wishes as expressed in the will. This usually requires the Executor to obtain a Grant of Probate from the Supreme Court. The Grant proves to the rest of the world the Executors power to deal with the deceased’s assets
An Executor has a strict duty to properly and effectively administer the deceased’s Estate. An Executor can be personally liable for a breach of that duty. Executors must act impartially and prudently.
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Estate Planning and Superannuation

ESTATE PLANNING and SUPERANNUATION – The importance of considering Superannuation as part of your overall Estate Planning

Estate Planning Decision: In D17-18/120 (2018) SCTA 24 the Superannuation Complaints Tribunal (“Tribunal”) had to consider an application by the Deceased three minor children for payment of the death benefit and whether the binding death benefit could be overruled.

Facts

  • The Deceased had two adult children with his first wife and three minor children with his second wife.
  • After being diagnosed with a terminal illness the Deceased signed a new Will and at the direction of his solicitor, a Binding Death Benefit Nomination (“BDBN”) ( six months prior to his death.)
  • Both the Will and BNBN were in favour of his two adult children in equal parts.
  • The evidence supplied was that the Deceased had not been in contact with his second wife for many years; however had a strong and close relationship with his adult children.
  • The second wife sought that the death benefit be split equally among all children.  This application was rejected by the Trustee.
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Estate Planning – Extinct Institutions in a Will

Estate Planning – Extinct Institutions and Charitable Purpose

In Hicks v Mater Misericordiae Ltd [2017] QSC 38, the Court had to consider whether a testator’s charitable gift in her will had failed its charitable purpose because of the institution’s closure after her death.

Facts

  • The testator left the residue of her estate to the ‘Medical Superintendent for the time being of the Mater Children’s Hospital in Brisbane for the purchase of medical equipment for the treatment of seriously ill children’
  • However after the testator’s death and before the distribution of her estate, the Mater Children’s Hospital’s public hospital functions were taken over by another children’s hospital

Decision

  • The court then had to consider whether the charitable purpose of this gift had failed because of the closure of the Mater Children’s hospital
  • However, the court established that the evidence allowed the residue of the testator’s estate to be applied as near as possible (cy-pres) to the objects of the defunct institution
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Difference between joint tenancy and tenant in common important to consider in estate planning

The difference between a joint tenancy and tenant in common interest can be crucial when preparing your Will and to be considered as part of your overall estate plan.  It is important to understand the difference of the two.

A tenant in common holder can leave his or her interest by Will and a joint tenant cannot. This is because when the first of the joint tenant dies their interest passes to the surviving joint tenant.

For example for most married couples it is common that they have purchased property together as joint tenants.  If via each of their respective Will they are happy to leave that property to the survivor then there is usually no need to consider changing the joint tenancy.

If you are unsure as to how you hold your property or need specific estate planning advice then you should speak to one of our Wills & Estate Planning lawyers.

Questions/Assistance

If you would like more information about this article or if you would like any assistance in other estate planning area please feel free to speak with or email one of our specialist estate planning lawyers on (02) 9635 7966 or info@matthewsfolbigg.com.au
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